End of Hate by Damon "DarkMyau" Suffin

They were finally there. The stairs that seemed to rise forever leading into his throne room had finally been traversed.

The five looked at the door wearily as they checked their weapons and healed any injuries they had suffered at the hands of the mad denizens of Lashute.

The floating city had seemed ominous the first time they had arrived, but the people were friendly... Friendly in a way that made your skin crawl, but none had seemed a real threat to the party. But the second they had disembarked Wren's aero form they had been attacked.

As they travelled the streets they were attacked again and even as they reached the base of these very same stairs they had been attacked. Mocking laughter had followed them every step of the way to the throne room and those who didn't out right attack them jeered and mocked them every step of the way.

But each knew their role in the party and none had faltered. They had won passage through their will and determination and now the king of this light forsaken city would answer to them.

Aron Sa Riik, a young man aged by the trials he had faced all these months since his father had sent him on this journey, looked pensive. Beside him Kara, his cousin with the same neon green hair he sported, was checking her weapons and didn't seem to notice him looking at her. As he looked around Laya's gaze met his. She looked just as uncomfortable as he did and he nodded to her that it would all be OK. Wren and Mieu, however, wore dark expressions. Neither cyborg moved or spoke at all. They had been this way since the group landed. They knew who was behind that door and they had been waiting for this moment with dread for longer than Aron could imagine.

"All right then" Aron finally said. Each party member nodded in agreement and moved into their positions behind Aron still glancing back at the jeering mob that was slowly climbing the stairs behind them.

The twin doors that had been heavy and slow to open the first time opened easily and without the heavy scraping they had made. Aron didn't like it, but walked forward into the throne room.

The room, dimly lit the last time they had been there, was now bright and every small corner of the room was visible... As was every horrifying image of death and destruction carved into the walls around them. At the far end a man sat on his throne flanked on either side by a woman in strange robes. They leered at the party as they approached like a spider would at a fly it had just caught.

Laya was the one to speak first. "Sister" she said to the woman on the left of the throne. "How are you still alive after all these years?" The woman's smile grew wider as she replied "I am not Zafriah. She died long ago at Rulakir's hands. I am her shadow". The woman on the right laughed at that "As am I the shadow of Khalidah, one your precious Laya killed in times long past."

The man on the throne finally spoke as he rose. He was larger than he had seemed sitting and his yellow cape revealed ancient green armour underneath. His cape didn't move at all in the cold breeze and his eyes seemed black, darker than the void above them. "My heart went black 1000 years ago when my family died in the Laya-Orakio war."

Aron was taken aback by how deep and forceful the words were. Hate, pure hate and anger he couldn't even imagine existed seemed to flow from each syllable as the long forgotten king spoke. "Dark Force owns my soul... AND HE SHALL OWN YOURS!"

The two women beside let out a howl of rage and attacked. The one Laya had called sister pounced onto her before the esper could raise her bow and they both crashed to the ground struggling frantically as each tried to gain the upper hand. Kara had also been pounced on by the other one who hadn't been so lucky. Kara had her slicers up and one slashed into the purple haired women's mid-section drawing a scream of pain.

Roars of anger seemed to explode into the room as more of Lashute's wretched people charged into the room. Mieu and Wren were there to meet them with their own rage and battle was joined.

Rulakir smirked at Aron through the chaos around them and with a flick of his wrist six fires appeared in front of him. He beckoned in mock challenge. "So, you're the new Orakio?"

Aron unsheathed the Neisword and gave the knight's salute he had been taught by his father to Rulakir. "I don't fear you, dark one. You are no kin of mine". Rulakir laughed in reply.

Rulakir's smirk remained as Aron sliced through three of the fires blocking them and launched after the other three, ending them just as quickly. Aron pointed the sword in challenge "Are you going to fight or do you cower behind your slaves?"

Rulakir's dark eyes seemed to glow as an insane laughter filled the room. In a blur of movement faster than Aron thought possible the old king was upon him, his left hand releasing a wave of pure black energy that Aron barely avoided. Instincts learned from the countless battles that had lead him to this point saved him again as a fire spell exploded in his face. He fell back with the force of the spell, thus avoiding another black wave that passed over his left shoulder.

Trying to create some distance, he swung the Neisword in a wide arc only to hear a loud clang as the short sword Rulakir had hidden under his cloak deflected his attack. Rulakir pushed forward again, his blade slashing hard against Aron's armour. The young prince saw the opening and stabbed forward, catching Rulakir clean in the chest, knocking the older man over. Aron exhaled in relief, but was again surprised as the fallen king leapt to his feet and charged forward to meet him.

Focusing his power the Neisword smashed into Rulakir's right side and his ancient armour gave way, releasing a pool of black blood. Aron pushed with all the might he had, hoping that this single blow would end the fight. The dark power Aron felt emanating from the old king was almost overwhelming, but he couldn't falter here; not to him.

To his horror, Rulakir didn't cry out in pain or even in shock. He continued laughing, now face to face with Aron. "Is that all you can do, little Orakio?" Aron tried in vain to draw and swing the Neisword back again into Rulakir's body as a cold hand clasped around his throat. With a strength seemly impossible for the old man, Rulakir launched them both across the room, slamming Aron into the far wall.

"When you see my brother, tell him I am still the better." Rulakir mocked. Aron felt his grip on the hilt of his sword faltering as he struggled to breathe. Rulakir raised his left hand, now glowing with visible black energy, to end his life.

Aron did not cry. He did not beg. A look of angry defiance met Rulakir's mad glare. He would die a Sa Riik as his father had taught him. A blur of metal appeared in Aron's peripheral vision as a fist struck Rulakir's face hard, sending the old king crashing to the ground. Aron slumped to the ground breathing hard but kept his head up in time to see Mieu leap upon Rulakir. Raising her Neiclaw high above her head, she plunged it into his chest. Rulakir blinked in shock and the dark energy in his left hand dissipated harmlessly as it fell to the floor. Aron noticed tears in her eyes and a deeply sad look on Wren's face. Yet Rulakir did not cry out in pain. He blinked again in shock and his black eyes seemed to lighten. Staring up at the cyborg, "Mieu?" he finally said, finally recognising her.

"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry" Mieu pleaded as she cradled Rulakir's head in her left hand. Wren also knelt beside the old king cradling his fallen body and was just as loud as tears fell from his eyes. "We failed you, Rulakir. Please forgive us" he pleaded. Rulakir looked sad as his eyes meet Wren's. "You didn't fail, I did" he stammered as the blood from his punctured lungs started to choke him.

Struggling to turn his head, Rulakir finally fixed his eyes on Aron. "You have freed me" he stammered. "Destroy Dark Force". And with a weak sigh, Rulakir's eyes closed for the final time.

Mieu and Wren didn't let go of Rulakir and continued to sob apologies as they cradled his lifeless body. Aron stumbled to his feet, still clutching the Neisword.

The room was silent. Oddly silent.

The people of Lashute were on their knees. Some whimpered, some pleaded for their lives, but most of them were silent. They had no further will to fight.

Aron now looked for his other companions. He saw Laya first. She wore an expressionless face as she looked down on the body of what had claimed to be her sister. A large blood splatter covered the front of her armour, but she didn't seem to be hurt.

He didn't need to look around for his other companion, as Kara was already racing over to him and embraced Aron as hard as she could. "Are you alright!?" she practically cried at him. "I'll be fine" Aron answered slowly. "We aren't finished here" he said, looking into the dark corridor behind Rulakir's throne.

"Everybody up".

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